Economic Sectors of Colombia: Primary, Secondary and Tertiary

The Economic sectors of Colombia Are divided into three: the primary sector or agricultural sector, the secondary sector or industrial sector and the tertiary sector or sector of service provision.

This division and differentiation is in agreement with the studies of classical economics. Each of these sectors has common economic activities within each group and differs from the others.

Drawing of factories example of economic sectors of Colombia

In other words, the categories are divided in this way according to the economic activities that are carried out in each one. This means that each sector has characteristics in common, owns a unit and differs from other sectors precisely because of the above.

In Colombia, according to the DANE (National Administrative Department of Statistics) of the total of economic establishments that exist in the country, 48% corresponds to trade, 40% to services and 12% to industry.

For its part, the DANE reports that of the total national jobs in the economic sector, 51% are in service establishments, while 30% in commerce and 19% in industry.

According to classical economics, the primary sector and the secondary sector are considered as producers of tangible goods. This means that thanks to its operation, goods and physical products are obtained.

On the other hand, the tertiary sector, when dealing with services, does not produce tangible goods and is not considered as a productive sector. However, it is necessary to clarify that, despite not producing tangible goods, the tertiary sector contributes to the formation of the product and the national income.

In Colombia it is frequent that the economic sectors named by the classical theory are not the only ones that exist. Economic activities tend to differentiate into small groups according to the specialization of each.

Because of this, there are other recognized economic sectors. Which are named after:

  • Agricultural sector
  • Service sector
  • Industrial sector
  • Transport sector
  • Trade sector
  • Financial sector
  • Construction sector
  • Mining and energy sector
  • Solidarity sector
  • Communications sector

Types of Sectors

Primary sector

The primary sector or agricultural sector of the economy comprises all those economic activities related to the obtaining of products and goods directly from nature. In this sector no transformation is made to the good or product obtained.

Among the economic activities that are grouped in the primary sector we find agriculture and the agricultural sector, understood as the set of tools, knowledge and activities carried out by the human being with the objective of obtaining vegetal products when being cultivated.

Agriculture can vary depending on where it is grown. The tools, knowledge, approach and goods and products obtained also vary, according to each geographical area.

In Colombia, for example, agriculture develops more strongly in certain departments, such as Valle del Cauca, home to the largest sugarcane production in the country.

Agriculture is one of the first technological advances developed by humanity. In antiquity, most of the human tribes were nomads. This means that they did not settle on any specific terrain and instead traveled long distances looking for food in hunting areas or collecting fruits of wild plants.

Thus, with the birth, boom and growth of agriculture, tribes of human beings could settle in a geographical location and develop from that site.

Together with agriculture, humans, about 11,500 years ago, began to graze and raise wild animals. Among the first animal species that were raised by humans are dogs, who helped in hunting.

Colombia, thanks to its geographic location (it possesses coasts both in the Pacific Ocean and in the Atlantic Ocean, in addition to having a large expanse of land in the Amazon). In turn, the richness of its lands and the great climatic diversity, is considered one of the world powers in agriculture.

In 2016, various entities and companies from Canada, the United States and Israel visited the department of Valle del Cauca with a view to investing in the agricultural sector thanks to the conference developed by scientist Juan Carlos Borrero Plaza, titled"Colombia's tropical power."

Secondary sector

Within the economic activities included in the secondary sector we can find all those related to the industry.

The industrial sector, unlike the primary sector, where raw materials are obtained, is characterized by the execution of industrial processes to transform raw materials, goods or merchandise into equipment or products that can be consumed.

The secondary sector can be divided into two subsectors: On the one hand we find the extractive industrial sector.

This sector focuses on the collection, collection and extraction of raw materials related to mining and oil. These two activities are not considered to belong to the primary sector in spite of being processes in which the product, good or commodity is not transformed at first.

On the other hand, there is the industrial sector of transformation. In this sector are activities such as the manufacture of appliances, the bottling of soft drinks and soft drinks, the manufacture and assembly of vehicles, construction, crafts, energy generation, among others.

All industries related to the manufacture of goods and merchandise are considered part of the secondary sector. Manufacturing a raw material means turning it into a product. It is, again, a process of transformation.

There are companies that manufacture a part of the product and that add their work to a large chain that results in the merchandise, the good or the finished product. An example of this chain would be the assembly of automobiles or vehicles.

According to the Colombian Chamber of Construction (Camacol) Colombia has closed the most recent years with a positive investment in construction. This is due, in large part, to the free housing projects that the government has implemented during recent mandates and which have resulted in the construction and delivery of about 100,000 homes.

In addition to this, the construction sector has also grown thanks to the implementation of new highway construction projects and port infrastructure. In addition, construction is part of one of the Types of industries .

For these reasons, the construction sector, together with mining (Colombia being one of the countries with the highest export of emeralds), has some of the economic activities that have increased the growth rate.

Third sector

The tertiary sector of the economy groups all those activities related to the provision of services.

Within this sector is not the realization or production of consumer goods or capital goods. In the tertiary sector all the activities that provide some service to the community, companies and people in general are presented.

Within the tertiary sector are activities such as telecommunications, transportation, medicine, education, commerce, tourism, government, financial, administrative and health sector.

Also included are all activities directly related to leisure, arts and culture. Finally, it is necessary to clarify that trade is a service that is not only provided at the national level, but also internationally in what is known as foreign trade.

Despite not producing goods by itself, the tertiary sector is characterized as being fundamental for the correct development of the economy, since it focuses on the distribution and consumption of merchandise, in the provision of personal services such as public services, health , Education, among others.

Thanks to the organization and administration provided by the tertiary sector, the primary and secondary sectors may be more productive for Colombia.

Services of the tertiary sector in Colombia

Bogotá, one of the most important Colombian economies


According The CEER (Center for Regional Economic Studies) in Colombia, despite the great reform that has been made to health in recent years, there are still deficiencies and inequalities.

The report presented shows that the disparity in the provision of health services in Colombia is an issue that the government must address in the country's public health policy.

Thus, Law 100 of health introduced the concept of health as a commodity. This resulted in the emergence of private investors who make a profit in the process of intermediation between the citizens and the provider of the health service.

To this must be added that health in Colombia is not a service provided only by the state and public entities, but there is intervention and private investment, which seeks to profit.


The tertiary sector groups the activities related to the trade, being thus the wholesale and retail trade. The activities of exchange of products for money carried out in market places, shopping centers,"San Andresitos ", among others.

The"San Andresitos"are places where commercial activity is carried out with products and merchandise. They are almost always located in the center of the city and are establishments where products are obtained at a lower value than other establishments such as shopping centers.

In some cases, the products have a lower price because they are smuggled or illegal, because they have not paid the corresponding taxes in customs.

These places receive in the name of"San Andresitos"because the products and merchandise that arrived at the island of San Andrés, in the Colombian Caribbean, were cheaper because of the low taxes that were applied to them.


The transport service is part of the tertiary sector. Within this category we find the transport of passengers by sea, land or air.

In addition, there is also cargo transportation, public transportation, among others. In Colombia, the transportation service in the big cities has different options. On the one hand, there are mass transport systems that are articulated in large networks of buses and stations connected to each other, covering the vast majority of urban territory.

Bogotá's"Transmilenio", the Colombian capital, is an example of this type of mass transit system open to the public. On the other hand, there are cities like Medellín that have an elevated Metro system. These services are financed by mixed funds, which include private and public investment.


The economic activities related to the provision of the communications service include not only mobile and fixed telephone companies, the provision of internet service, but also companies engaged in the media, including radio, the press, television and The new virtual screens.

In addition, companies, entities and companies related to advertising and publishers are included.


  1. Cultural Deputy of the Bank of the Republic. (2015). Economic sectors . Retrieved from:
  2. Oxford Business Club. TheReport: Colombia 2016 (2016) Recovered from
  3. (March 2017) Agriculture. Retrieved from
  4. Bank of the Republic. Jaime Bonet-Morón, Karelys Guzmán-Finol (August 2015) A regional analysis of health in Colombia. Retrieved from
  5. Oxford Business Club. TheReport: Colombia 2016 (2016) Industry & Retail Retrieved from
  6. Oxford Business Club. The Report: Colombia 2016 (2016) Health. Retrieved from
  7. Nations Encyclopedia. (2017) Colombia- EconomicSectors. Retrieved from

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